20 Under 40: Chelsie Holmes finds and fills gaps in the community
Chelsie Holmes cannot bring herself to tell someone she can’t help them. In her short time in the Yampa Valley, the 31-year-old has become a voice for marginalized groups such as domestic violence survivors and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s hard to say, ‘Sorry, there’s nowhere to send you. Sorry, I can’t help you and neither can anyone else,’” Holmes said. “That is burdensome to me. To be honest, I never really imagined myself being in this role. Bisexual people are historically very underrepresented and marginalized within the community. Because of that, I never saw myself being a leader in the queer community. So, it’s kind of energizing to turn the tables on that.”
Holmes is bisexual, and a survivor of domestic violence, and she is deeply dedicated to bettering the lives of other survivors and those in the LGBTQ+ community. She came to Routt County in 2020 when she got a job as a victim advocate at Advocates in Routt County. She’s since been named Confidential Services Program Manager.
“Chelsie moved here only two years ago and in that short time, she took the time to get to know the community and through that, found the gaps that were existing and somehow found a way to fill those gaps in services,” said Julia Luciano-Burns, Holmes’ coworker. “Yampa Valley Pride is the biggest example.”
Holmes somewhat selfishly helped found Yampa Valley Pride, which put together the first annual Yampa Valley Pride festival in 2021.
“I didn’t really realize what queer community meant to me until I didn’t have it,” Holmes said. “I lived in a historically queer neighborhood of metro Detroit before moving here and was surrounded by other queer people all the time. When I moved here, I didn’t know any.”
Since then, Yampa Valley Pride has put on the second annual Pride festival, and conducted a roundtable and survey of the LGBTQ community in Routt County alongside the social justice coalition.
What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration
When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1
Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza
Sometimes, people overlap her role at Advocates and role at Pride and come to Holmes with requests or questions about gender affirming health care or experiencing a hate crime.
“Advocates doesn’t do that,” she said. “And neither does Pride.”
That’s the newst gap Holmes as found. She and Yampa Valley Pride hope to take the information from the roundtable and create an advocacy center that can help address those referrals in the future. She knows a group of volunteers can’t run it, though. People with the right expertise and a heart for advocacy will have to help bring a resource center to life.
Additionally, Holmes is also on the board of Young Bloods Collective, which helps create access to the art community for aspiring artists. She’s been heavily involved with Speak, a performance of poetry, dance and more, coordinated by Young Bloods.
“Instead of repeating other people’s monologues, we wanted people to have the opportunity to create their own,” Holmes said. “I love that kind of stuff. … That’s my favorite thing about Young Bloods.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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